Album Review


Released November 17, 2014
Lisa Sanchez
​XTRMST, the straight-edge baby of AFI vocalist Davey Havoc and guitarist Jade Puget, has windmill kicked onto the music scene with their self-titled album XTRMST. XTRMST's sound is that of atmostpheric hardcore, which by its very existence defies description. Havoc uses his big kid voice for the vocals, channeling some truly crushing, low-register, dirty singing circa early 90s AFI. XTRMST's beats are resonating, keeping your blood pumping and maybe making you feel a little guilty about enjoying music from the guys who previously brought you "Miss Murder."
XTRMST are a great collaboration of styles and influences. The rage and tenacity of converge, the freeform composition of The Dead Kennedys and, of course, the balance between shredding screams and solid vocals that Havoc hasn't delivered full force since the year 2000 make the album truly entertaining. XTRMST is strictly Havoc's and Puget's straight-edge pet project. They've made it abundantly clear that is the main purpose of XTRMST; to make music about straight-edge philosophy and of how little importance vowels are to the English language.
Any band that totes a specific message always seems to come off as self-serving, and XTRMST does not provide an exception to the rule. But, if you're not looking for it, the fact that every song on XTRMST has a super straight-edge message can be overlooked and enjoyed for its musical quality. Plus, XTRMST has craftsmanship and talent in spades. It's not difficult to enjoy if you're a hardcore fan, a straight-edge guru, or just love to hear Havoc and Puget wail on every musical principle known to man.
XTRMST also acts as a throwback to some older styles of punk and hardcore that aren't as prevalent in the scene anymore. "Conformist" is great for this, it's a little disjointed and hectic without ever losing focus. "Humanity" and "Swallow Your God" are just solid fist-pumping, circle pit fuel, and "Dirty Nails" is the song I will use if I ever have to slow walk away from an explosion.
XTRMST, as a band and as an album, seems like an avant-garde art project for already established artists. Each song is an aggressive, condensed, combustion of noise and fury from Havoc and Puget. At this point, with their 20 years of experience, I don't believe most bands could pull it off better than the AFI veterans, vowels included or otherwise.